Microsoft Teams: Making meetings matter

When I first started in IT, the running joke (and more like a fact) was that in-person meetings always start 10 minutes late because of technical issues. The projector isn’t working, I don’t have network connectivity, why doesn’t my PC have the right resolution, I can’t find the PowerPoint deck, and so on. Then, during the meeting additional issues arise such as who’s taking notes, where will the notes be saved, can someone pull up that slide, <and insert your favorite issue here>. With the popularity of virtual meetings over the last decade, the story has certainly evolved to be more positive and easier to setup and have a meeting, and in many cases eliminating the delayed start altogether.

Recently I have been thinking differently about how to have a meeting and how to make my meetings richer, more valuable for my attendees and frankly make them matter. With the introduction of Microsoft Teams, the project teams I work on have all adopted Microsoft Teams as their hub for teamwork and in doing so have formed a consensus amongst the members of the various teams to hold every project meeting in Microsoft Teams. This poses some challenges as you could imagine, but it also brings many opportunities to make the team operate more efficiently and be higher performing. One interesting dimension of this, is a change in user behavior, and how that impacts/influences the team.

Holding your meetings in Microsoft Teams is a paradigm shift for users as it presents three ways to have a meeting (channel, private, ad-hoc). Understanding when to use which method and how to use it is extremely important to ensuring your meeting attendees have a good experience. In this blog post I am going to discuss how I make the three meeting types work for my teams, and how I enrich my meetings to make them more valuable. I hope by reading this you’ll be inspired, and even get new ideas as to how you can make meetings matter in your organization.

Important: It’s important that before considering enabling and using meetings in Microsoft Teams that your organization’s network is properly engineered to handle real-time traffic. See Prepare your organization’s network for Microsoft Teams for more information.

Meeting Types
As I mentioned above, there are three types of meetings in Microsoft Teams:

  • Channel Meetings (scheduled)
  • Private Meetings (scheduled)
  • Meet Now Meetings (non-scheduled)

Channel Meetings

What is a Channel Meeting?

A Channel Meeting is a meeting that occurs within a channel in a team in Microsoft Teams and is out in the open, visible (and open) for anyone that is a member of the team to join (it’s “public”). For example, this can be a recurring team status meeting. When browsing the channel in my team, I can immediately see a meeting is occurring and can join and leave as I wish. This might also be useful if I want people to have awareness that a meeting is occurring, and based on the agenda they can choose whether or not there is value in them attending (similar to the meeting title and brief description on a monitor outside a physical meeting room). There are two types of channel meetings: scheduled and non-scheduled (meet now).

Below is an example of what a channel meeting looks like if you were to browse the channel and see it. Let’s take a closer look at what is happening here:

  • On the right of the channel name (Go To Market Plan) the icon, indicating there is a meeting currently in-progress.
  • In the conversation feed, I can see the meeting name (Weekly Team Meeting) a button to join, the date/time it is scheduled for, and who the original organizer is.
  • Notice the two photos to the right of the meeting name? That’s indicating there’s two people currently in the meeting and who they are (in this case Alex and Adele).
  • Notice I can also see the chat that is occurring in the meeting, in real time. In this case, Megan has placed today’s agenda in the chat which I can see even though I’m not in the meeting! This helps me decide if I want to join.
  • Lastly, I can see the meeting timer for how long the meeting’s duration is thus far. In this case, the meeting has been going on for 9 minutes.

Important: The coolest feature of this? Once the meeting has ended, this information will be persistent! Talk about going back and reviewing the history of who attended, and the chat history of meetings!


At any time, I can click the button to see the meeting details where a detailed description and additional information.


Scheduling a Channel Meeting:

Let’s briefly talk about how to schedule a channel meeting. Channel meetings are scheduled using the Teams client (desktop or web). Note that at the time of this writing, scheduling channel meetings using the Microsoft Teams add-in for Outlook, is not available. To schedule the meeting, click on the meetings button on the left side of the client. Then at the bottom of your agenda view click the Schedule a Meeting button. Give the meeting a title, a description (agenda), and specify the channel you want to meet in. Do not invite specific individuals. Then click Schedule a Meeting. The meeting will appear in the channel as you saw in the example above. At this point, anyone can join.

But wait, this is a channel meeting, why would I want to invite specific individuals? Inviting attendees to a channel meeting could be an example of a meeting that is intended for a select group of individuals in the team focusing on a specific task – but the meeting is occurring within the context of the channel so anyone can drop in to participate in the meeting (it’s about changing the workstyle of the team from working in silos, to working in the open) I like this ability, because it enables you to work in the open and give the team visibility to your meeting. If you specify attendees here, they will receive an email calendar invitation.


Once scheduled, it will appear in the conversation feed in the channel:


Important! If team members do not turn off email notifications for the underlying Office 365 Group, they will receive a calendar invite. For more details see Why do I receive invites to channel meetings in Microsoft Teams? (mystery solved)

Private Meetings

What is a Private Meeting?

Private meetings are meetings that are closed to only individuals that were invited to the meeting and are not visible to anyone on the team unless they received an email invitation (like traditional meeting requests in Outlook) or they are invited through the Teams client. Private meetings can be scheduled, or they can be within a private group chat. Let’s discuss scheduled first.

Scheduling a Private Meeting

One method of scheduling the private meeting is to use the Microsoft Teams Outlook Add-In as seen below:

Choosing Teams Meeting from New Items in Outlook:


Composing the new Teams Meeting request:


The second method is using the built-in scheduler in the Teams client (web or desktop) like we did in the channel meeting. Personally, I prefer to schedule within the Teams client as it keeps me in one application and I find using the suggested meeting times (see below) better than searching across free/busy of all my attendees. Following the same process as scheduling a channel meeting, instead of selecting a channel to meet in, we will invite the people that need to attend.

Notice, under the names of Alex and Adele it says “Free” indicating their calendars are open and available for this time slot. In addition, under the start date, there is intelligence suggesting available times for everyone who was invited. This makes it easy when trying to schedule a meeting. Of course, you can view free/busy of the attendees if you wish to do so by clicking on Scheduling Assistant.


Scheduling assistant:


A private meeting can also occur within a private group chat. In other words, a private chat conversation taking place between 3 or more individuals. This may not be technically considered a meeting, but I consider this a meeting as you are pulling together individuals to talk using voice or video and sharing your desktop/application – that’s a meeting. Here’s an example, of 4 individuals in a private group chat:


And the private group chat being escalated to a voice meeting by clicking the icon:


Meet Now Meetings:

What is a Meet Now meeting?

A meet now meeting is a meeting that is not scheduled, occurs on-demand at the spur of a moment, and lives in the context of the channel. One example scenario for this (and one that I use frequently) is if there is a lively conversation thread taking place in the channel, sometimes it’s easier to get everyone together on a video conference to continue the discussion and drive home next steps. Let’s walk through that scenario in more detail together:

Here is a lively conversation thread taking place. I’m going to reply and let everyone know I will start a meeting:


After typing my reply, in the reply field of the conversation thread I will click the icon:


From here I can add a subject (useful to the members perusing the channel) and click Meet now to start the meeting.

Note: I can also schedule a meeting from here as well.


In the channel, other team members can see there is a meeting happening and can join if they are interested:


Once in the meeting, notice it will be in the context of the conversation thread:


If replying in the conversation thread doesn’t get everyone’s attention, I can also invite them directly which will ring their Teams client and pull them into the meeting. Notice it will also give me suggestions:


Matt’s tips for making meetings matter:

Here’s some personal best practices I have established that help to make my own meetings be more valuable to my attendees. Of course, this is not exhaustive, otherwise I’ll keep you here all week!

Is a meeting even needed?

There’s only so many hours in the day to get work done, and my co-worker’s time is valuable. If I show that I value their time, it will pay dividends in respect back. When asked what I love most about Microsoft Teams, my immediate answer is that it can actually reduce the number of meetings or eliminate meetings altogether! I’ll save the longer explanation for a future blog post, but essentially Teams is changing the behavior of the team. For example, if I have a weekly status meeting with the team where all we do is go around the table asking who’s working on what and their status, reviewing budget, etc – all of that information can be easily accessible by anyone on the team – including leadership.

Think about it.

  • What if we had a PowerBI dashboard that showed budgetary data and it was pinned as a tab in the channel? At anytime anyone on the team (including leadership) can go in and review the data. If they have a question, they can ask via chat. Anyone on the team who is able to answer the question, can. That might eliminate a meeting.
  • In a status meeting, if we are reviewing status of tasks from each team member, that data is probably already being tracked somewhere else – whether it’s a spreadsheet, or even Planner. Pin it as a tab in the channel, and let the team (including leadership) see it. If there’s questions, ask via chat. A side benefit of this is that if I completed my task early and I see you are running behind, I can reach out and contribute to help you be successful because I had visibility to the task via Planner. Otherwise, I’d still be in a silo with no situational awareness.

Amazing things happen when you work in the open, cultures change, and the downstream impact on the organization can be huge!

Who’s taking notes?

Who’s taking notes? Can you send out the notes after the meeting? I don’t have access! I never got the link! You didn’t include the next steps! Hey, we’ve all been there in the headache of dealing with taking notes in a meeting and ensuring all attendees have a copy. One of my absolute favorite feature of Microsoft Teams is the OneNote integration, and being able to have a notebook that is “out in the open” for anyone to see, use and make changes to, really does help the team to perform better. One way it contributes to this higher performance of the team is by using it as a shared meeting notebook. Create the notebook in Teams, and pin it as a tab to the channel:


If you are taking notes, share out your screen and show that you are taking notes in the notebook in the Teams client – especially if it’s an important conversation. This helps to reinforce the behavior that if an attendee wants to see notes, they can access it in the channel (rather than emailing someone for a link). Also, as attendees see as you are typing, their attention span may be more focused and my enrich the conversation. Example of taking notes in the Teams client:


For extra credit, paste a link to the meeting notes in the channel!

I want you to have a good experience in my meeting

Three things I always do when I start a meeting: 1) I ask everyone if they are using built-in PC mic and speakers to please switch to a headset or USB speakerphone or other device. 2) Please mute yourself if you are not talking, and note that I will be muting you if you don’t 🙂 Having good audio quality is critical to executing an effective meeting. If the attendee has poor audio, then the productivity of the meeting will drop significantly.

The third is that I turn on my video, and I encourage everyone else to turn on theirs. The reason why I do this is simple: if you are going to be in a meeting, I want you to be 100% there. Turning on your video enables you to be there, eliminates multi-tasking, and more importantly it allows the engagement of the conversation to be much richer. You would be surprised at how much more productive meetings are when everyone has video turned on! Plus in Teams the video experience is amazing!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me share my screen

I noticed that once I started sharing out my screen to work on a document together with the group, participation in the meeting can sometimes take a hit. An effective way to ensure everyone can participate and feel valued is rather than sharing out my screen, I’ll ask everyone to open the same document and start reviewing and making edits together. This creates a nice atmosphere and I find it always generates some good conversation and most importantly engages everyone. This way we can get the task done faster, and there’s no need for follow-up or action items. Here’s an example of document co-authoring:


 Conclusion:

There are three meeting types in Microsoft Teams, and it’s up to you and your unique scenario as to how and when you use each one. Just as I have, find your own meeting best practices leveraging the technology to make it work for you so your meetings can be more effective and have more impact. Enjoy!

Why do I receive invites to channel meetings in Microsoft Teams? (mystery solved)

For awhile I have been witnessing what I would call an oddity and something that I felt might be unexpected. As I covered in this post Microsoft Teams: Making your meetings matter Microsoft Teams has three different types of meetings (channel, private and meet now). Whenever someone on my team would schedule a channel meeting, for some odd reason everyone who is a member of the team would receive an email invitation. This is odd, because a channel meeting is a meeting that occurs in the open and lives in the channel of a team. It’s designed for anyone on the team to have permissions to attend the meeting if they choose to. If I wish to join, I can click the meeting in the channel to join. If the meeting doesn’t appear to be interesting, I don’t join – it’s as simple as that. Why would I need an email invitation?

If you have experienced this “issue”, you’ll want to keep reading!

After thinking perhaps this was user error or maybe even a bug, I brushed it off. However, it kept happening with other teams I would join and even hearing stories from other organizations that experience the same behavior – so I had to investigate. Before we go further, let’s first understand what a channel meeting is.

What is a Channel Meeting?

A Channel Meeting is a meeting that occurs within a channel in a team in Microsoft Teams and is out in the open, visible (and open) for anyone that is a member of the team to join (it’s “public”). For example, this can be a recurring team status meeting. When browsing the channel in my team, I can immediately see a meeting is occurring and can join and leave as I wish. This might also be useful if I want people to have awareness that a meeting is occurring, and based on the agenda they can choose whether or not there is value in them attending (similar to the meeting title and brief description on a monitor outside a physical meeting room). There are two types of channel meetings: scheduled and non-scheduled (meet now). For purposes of this blog, I’ll only address scheduled but see this blog here for more information on meet now.

Below is an example of what a channel meeting looks like if you were to browse the channel and see it. Let’s take a closer look at what is happening here:

  • On the right of the channel name (Go To Market Plan) the icon, indicating there is a meeting currently in-progress.
  • In the conversation feed, I can see the meeting name (Weekly Team Meeting) a button to join, the date/time it is scheduled for, and who the original organizer is.
  • Notice the two photos to the right of the meeting name? That’s indicating there’s two people currently in the meeting and who they are (in this case Alex and Adele).
  • Notice I can also see the chat that is occurring in the meeting, in real time. In this case, Megan has placed today’s agenda in the chat which I can see even though I’m not in the meeting! This helps me decide if I want to join.
  • Lastly, I can see the meeting timer for how long the meeting’s duration is thus far. In this case, the meeting has been going on for 9 minutes.

Important: The coolest feature of this? Once the meeting has ended, this information will be persistent! Talk about going back and reviewing the history of who attended, and the chat history of meetings!

At any time, I can click the button to see the meeting details where a detailed description and additional information.

Scheduling a Channel Meeting:

Let’s briefly talk about how to schedule a channel meeting. Channel meetings are scheduled using the Teams client (desktop or web). Note that at the time of this writing, scheduling channel meetings using the Microsoft Teams add-in for Outlook, is not available. To schedule the meeting, click on the meetings button on the left side of the client. Then at the bottom of your agenda view click the Schedule a Meeting button. Give the meeting a title, a description (agenda), and specify the channel you want to meet in. Do not invite specific individuals. Then click Schedule a Meeting. The meeting will appear in the channel as you saw in the example above. At this point, anyone can join.

You’ll now get an email notification… (and here’s why)

Remember, a team in Microsoft Teams has an Office 365 Group associated with it. When you are added to a Team as a member, you are also a member of the associated Office 365 Group. With a group, you have two ways to read messages sent to it, either by subscribing to it or by manually which will result in you receiving an email notification (just like a traditional distribution list) or by browsing out to access the group the group directly. (Note, with Teams messages sent to the team will not appear in the group, with the exception of calendar invites which I’ll touch on in a moment).

Here’s an example of “browsing to the group” using Outlook Web App:

Subscribing to a group

When you are a member of a group, you may automatically be subscribed to email notifications (based on how the admin has configured it). But with Teams, when you belong to the team and the underlying group, you’ll also receive notifications. When a message is sent to the group, and you subscribe to it, you’ll receive an email notification that has this in the footer of the message indicating it’s coming from the group:

How do I manage these notifications? Browse to the group in Outlook Web App, and click the gear icon on the far right side to display options:

Next, click Manage group email. This is where you can specify your preferences for subscribing to email notifications of the group.


Okay, so why am I receiving calendar invites from the channel meeting?

Let’s take a look at the preferences above, but with a lens on what radio button is checked by default. Notice the radio button Receive only replies to you and group events is checked. This means if a calendar event is scheduled in the group’s calendar – since you subscribe you will receive the calendar invite as an email! Changing the radio button to Don’t receive any group messages will allow you to no longer receive any email (including calendar invites) from the group and thus the team in Microsoft Teams.

Important: If you are the organizer of the channel meeting, you will always receive an email invitation because you are an organizer of the meeting.

Conclusion:

As part of your user training and adoption when rolling out Microsoft Teams to your organization, they are educated on this feature and develop an understanding of how meetings in Microsoft Teams work. See my blog post Microsoft Teams: Making your meetings matter for more information. Additionally, a best practice could also be developed to create the group first and using PowerShell administratively configure subscribe settings, then associate the team with it.

How I spend my day in Microsoft Teams (#Teamwork)

I often get asked “Matt what does a typical day in the life look like for you when using Microsoft Teams”? While that can certainly be a loaded question (because how and what I use Teams for can be different than others) I wanted to share with you my typical work flow as it may inspire you to look at your own workflow in a new way and how you interact with others on your team(s).

Important: While I would love to share screenshots of what my day looks like in Microsoft Teams, I have provided below example screenshots from my demo environment. These are intended to be a visual aid to help you imagine what that particular activity looks like. More importantly the text and story is intended to inspire you as to how you might be able to better use Microsoft Teams as a tool that not only enables you to do your best work, but help you to enjoy your work and be more productive. Lastly, my story below is only one of my stories as to what I do on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy, and as always I am looking forward to hearing your feedback and how you spend your day in Microsoft Teams.

7:30am (Morning coffee activities)

The day starts off browsing my Activity Hub in Microsoft Teams and checking to see if there are any new @ mentions where someone on any of the teams I subscribe to, needs me for any specific actions (i.e. review a document, add my comments to a status deck, etc). I also peruse to see if there are any team announcements from my leadership. Lastly I check the channels that have Yammer connectors that are related to the projects I am working on to see what others in the company are saying about the project. If there is a topic of interest, within the channel I may @ mention someone to then triage that Yammer message


8:30am (Team meetings)

I attend my daily stand up meeting with the project team to discuss status of tasks. Depending on the circumstance I may join the meeting from the Microsoft Teams smartphone app while commuting into the office. The project manager uses the Planner tab to record tasks and assign owners and due dates. She will facilitate the meeting around the Planner tab by sharing out her screen and moving tasks between buckets (In-Progress, At Risk, Completed). Someone on the team is taking notes in the OneNote tab as shared meeting notes that will be visible by all team members.



9:30am (Data analysis)

Using the PowerBI tab in my team channel, I review the project budget and spend data for the project and on another tab I check how much time each team member is spending on the project. I start a new conversation on the PowerBI report and @ mention the team to ask a few questions on hours and budget. I also @ mention the project manager to let her know the report is up to date and she can copy/paste it into the weekly executive status deck.


10:30am

A lively email conversation is occurring among team members where the review of a proposal is taking place. I noticed team members are editing the document and making comments and as a result, multiple versions are in the email thread. To ensure we have a single version and can all collaborate on the same thread and avoid forking, I forward the email to the team channel in Microsoft Teams and @ mention the channel to let everyone know to continue the conversation here.




 
 

11:30am (On-boarding)

We are having new team members join us tomorrow, so I need to up date the team wiki using the Wiki tab in the team channel. This is where all general information about the project is stored, acronyms/definitions, team contact information, project goals and objectives, etc. Once the new members join the team we will direct them to the Wiki tab to get started.


12:30pm

As part of this particular project, we need to professionally record videos of product demos and presentations. After working with the studio, I upload the raw footage to Microsoft Stream and then I create a Microsoft Stream tab in Teams that provides access to the video right within Teams. I announce to the team via an @ mention the footage is now available for their review and comments.


1:30pm

A task on the project involves creating a lab environment for our customers to learn new features of a product. This task is owned by a vendor/contractor and I realized they need access to the team so they can participate in conversations and collaborate on lab manuals and instruction documents. As a result, I validate they meet requirements set by my IT department to gain access to any proprietary information that is in the team, and I add the trusted individuals as a guest to the team in Microsoft Teams. I then @ mention the team welcoming them to the team.


2:30pm

Using the Microsoft Forms tab in Microsoft Teams, I create a survey that will be used with a pilot group of customers for the project to gather their insights and feedback. Of course, this is a draft of the survey so I will start a new conversation in the tab and @ mention several team members to gain their input on the survey.


3:30pm

There’s an upcoming team offsite next month in Redmond that requires us to carefully coordinate flights and hotels. Using the Kayak Bot added to the team channel, we can agree on flights and hotels and coordinate our travel schedules. I setup the bot, and start looking at flights and hotels.


4:30pm

At the end of the week on Friday there will be an executive review meeting of the project. To aid in putting together the deck required for the meeting using search in Microsoft Teams I look for updates from team members on various project tasks that stretch across conversations and files. Once I finish creating the draft PowerPoint deck I add it as a tab to the team channel and @ mention the team to ask for their input and review prior to the meeting.


5:00pm

To end the day, I have a 1:1 meeting with my manager. I place a private video call to him using Microsoft Teams and make the video feed full screen. I do this so he can see that I am not multi-tasking and that he has my complete attention (he also does the same). If needed we keep action items and talking points recorded in a shared OneNote notebook that we will reference throughout the meeting.

  

Reduce Email with Microsoft Teams (how and why to do it)

Introduction: The purpose of this post is to walk you through how to send an email to a channel in Microsoft Teams and why you would want to do so.

One of the many interesting features of Microsoft Teams is the capability to send an email to the team channel, and have the contents of the email displayed in the threaded conversation for all team members to view. But you’re probably wondering, why would I do that when I can just forward the email to those individuals instead? Why would I want to view it in Microsoft Teams?

Let’s explore the reasons why you would want to see an email in Microsoft Teams:

  • Searchable. Once the email has been sent to Microsoft Teams, it is now in the persistent chat and is saved for the life of the team. This makes it extremely easy to search for and find when you need it. I personally like this, because rather than someone on the team asking “Matt, can you send me the proposal email, because I can’t seem to find it in my mailbox” there’s no excuse – they can now search for the email within the team channel.
  • Attachments in one place. If you are on an email thread that contains an attachment (i.e. a document), and the sender is asking for comments in the document and to make changes/edit the document – we can quickly find ourselves with several different versions of the document spread across several different email messages in the thread. This can make managing that document very difficult, and time consuming to incorporate everyone’s changes/comments/etc. By sending the email to Microsoft Teams, the attachment is automatically uploaded to the channel’s files where team members can collaborate and co-author on a single version of the document.
  • Non-Forkable. A common problem we see with email is that we will forward a message to a separate set of individuals and start to conduct a lively conversation thread with those individuals. Meanwhile, a whole other conversation is still taking place back on the main email thread. This is a problem because now there are two places where the conversation is occurring, both groups of people cannot see the entire conversation because they are not members of both email threads. This can have devastating impacts and now causes the team to be split into two and working in silos. By sending the email to teams, it’s now in a single authoritative place where the entire team can participate in a conversation thread around that email.
  • It promotes teamwork. Involving everyone in the team is a good thing. Giving everyone visibility to the email, it’s attachments and granting them the opportunity to provide input is an even better thing.
  • Cuts down on email. Personally, my biggest challenge with email is the amount of messages I receive on a daily basis (and I am sure you can relate). If those messages are threaded with many recipients hitting reply-all, then my inbox really starts to grow. Why is this a problem? Well, how do I know if an email is important? How do I know if I need to take action? As a result, I have to read each email one by one. By sending the email to Microsoft Teams it’s in the threaded chat conversation, and I don’t have to read it if I don’t want to. However, if it’s important, the person who sent it may choose to @ mention the entire team or channel. Now it is “marked as important” and notifies everyone so they will read it. If there’s a specific action requested of me individually, in the chat conversation someone can @ mention me specifically. I will then be notified in my Action hub in Microsoft Teams and I know that I now need to read the thread. No @ mention, then the thread is just awareness, and is optional to read. Oh, and by giving a “thumbs up” to “like” the message – this indicates that you have received and read the message (no need to reply all and say “Thanks!”)

    The concept to understand, is that by sending the email to Microsoft Teams, and not to an email distribution list, or replying all and adding others, or forwarding, is this can reduce the amount of email for all parties involved – and can have positive downstream impacts on work life balance, team morale and even reduce stress. All by switching the conversation over to Microsoft Teams! This is powerful, and it’s all because you took the small step of sending it to the team channel 🙂 However, this won’t work as effectively unless everyone on the team is doing replicating this behavior.

    How do I send an email to the channel?

    First, before we go any further we need to know the email address of the channel in Microsoft Teams. To do this, next to the channel click the ellipsis and select Get email address:


    This will display the email address of the channel, click Copy:


    The email address will be copied to your clipboard. Next, locate the email you would like to send to the Microsoft Teams channel and forward it to the email address you just copied:

    Note: The email address will automatically resolve, in my example “General” is the name of the channel and “Project Del Mar” is the name of the team. Also, the areas I circled in red I will remove from the email prior to sending as to ensure it is cleanly formatted so that it can easily be read in the threaded chat conversation in Microsoft Teams. Lastly, notice there is an attachment.

In a few moments, a new chat conversation thread will be created in the General channel of the Project Del Mar team in Microsoft Teams. Notice the subject Northwide Proposal is displayed, and Alex’s original message is also displayed. In addition, you can download the original email message by clicking on the download original email (1 attachment) link (which will prompt you to save the email in .eml format for use in Outlook if you like).

From here, I will write a quick reply and @ mention the team to ensure everyone reads the message. Note that the reply will only be visible in Microsoft Teams (and will not be in email):

Note the red tab to the right of the reply. This indicates the entire team was @ mentioned.

I will now switch to a different user that is a member of the Project Del Mar team. In my Activity hub a new notification is displayed where the team was @ mentioned. Clicking on that notification will take me directly to that conversation thread and I can now review the message:

To acknowledge receipt of the message, instead of replying to everyone in the thread – I will simply click the thumbs up icon to indicate that I like the message. Now Megan will know that I have read the message:

In Megan’s view, hovering over the thumbs up icon she will see who has liked the message:

But wait, this email contained an attachment. Click on the attachment (blue bar) in the thread to view it:

Note: Based on the type of attachment the color and icon will change (green for Excel, Red for PowerPoint,etc)

The attachment will automatically open in Word Online viewer from within Microsoft Teams (no need to switch applications). When finished, click Close to return to the conversation.

Note, clicking Start Conversation will start a new conversation thread around just that document (and not the original email) this can be useful if there are multiple attachments in the email, you can collaborate on each one separately. This also makes it flexible based on how you want to collaborate:

Remember earlier I told you the attachment is stored in the channel’s files? At the top of the channel click Files. In the files view notice a new folder was created titled Email Attachments click the folder:


In the folder you will find the document in the attachment, and the original email in .eml format:

At this point, you can click the ellipsis next to the document and get a link directly to the document if you like. Let’s click on the document, and make some edits (either in this file view, or by clicking on the document in the conversation thread). Once the document is open, click Edit in Word Online:


I will make some edits to the document, (because it’s Word Online the edits will automatically be saved) when finished I will close the browser window:


Back in Microsoft Teams, I’m going to click Start Conversation to let Alex know I made an edit:

When finished click Close. Notice the time stamp under modified and the name under modified by has been updated to reflect my edits to the file:

Return to the conversation view in Microsoft Teams. As expected, a new conversation chat thread was started based on my comments in the document:

Next, I’d like to ask the owner (Alex) to notify the team once the proposal has been sent to the customer. I replied in the conversation thread, and @ mentioned Alex, notice Alex’s name is blue indicating he was @ mentioned:

In Alex’s Microsoft Teams client, he will receive a new notification in his Activity hub. When he clicks that notification, it will display the exact place where he was @ mentioned in the thread. Notice the tab to the right.

Lastly, this seems to be an important document as it’s a customer proposal. To ensure the team can quickly access it , let’s pin it as a tab. Click the ellipsis next to the attachment and select Make this a tab:


A new tab will be added to the top of the channel:


Conclusion: As you can see, by sending an email to Microsoft Teams you can greatly enhance the way the team views email and even new ways for them to collaborate around it. How are you using this in your organization? Do you have questions or would like for me to continue to expand on this concept? Let me know in the comments below!